Panicky Pickles

The other day Mr. P and I snuck away for a few hours to tackle some shopping to-dos. Target beckoned. We complied. 

I needed to find a birthday gift for Solomon, some birthday party items and miscellaneous groceries for a BBQ. 

After a comprehensive walk-through of the entire store (not my wisest moment), I was starting to feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, over hungry and over tired. 

But pickles. I needed pickles. After 8 years of pickle deprivation, you cannot have your burger pickle-less. You just can't. So, despite my urge at this point to run to a dark, quiet corner and hide from the world, I ventured back into the grocery section for the final item on my list.  

Let me just say; I don't recommend the pickle aisle if you are still freshly re-entering the US.  

Sweet relish in a squeeze bottle. Sweet relish in a jar. Dill relish. Spicy dill relish. Mini pickles. Jumbo pickles. Sliced pickles, long ways. Sliced pickles, the other way. Diced pickles. Bread and butter pickles. Sweet pickles. 

I. Can't. Even. 

Ensue: mini breakdown in the Target pickle aisle.  

Send tacos.  

 

Old friends

Some "old" friends from Guadalajara visited this week. Darius was Solomon's first best friend. Last year we spent a weekend together in Vegas over the fourth, and this year they came to Portland. It was awesome watching the boys pick up where they left off a year ago like it was no big thing. 

 

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First things first, blueberry picking... The perfect introduction to the beautiful Pacific Northwest! 

 

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It was fun to see our home through the eyes of someone from Vegas, desert born and raised. The trees took on a new depth of beauty, and the mountains and rivers and waterfalls did not disappoint. 

Next stop: Silver Falls

 

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And you can't visit Portland without experiencing the cycling scene...

we got to watch Uncle Johnny race a criterium, too! The boys' eyes were like saucers!! 

 

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Lastly, some 4th of July classics! 

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Have a wonderful week!!!

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Reunited.

After three weeks apart, daddy is home. It feels right. I'm still in denial that we won't be going back to Mexico when summer ends, but luckily we will have plenty to distract us. 

At the moment, life is piles of clothes in hampers and boxes filled with old photo albums. It's laying our heads down, exhausted at 9:00 pm, on unfamiliar pillows in cool and quiet bedrooms. It's a whole lot of unknowns still, and yet, a whole lot of knowns. We are blessed to have our families who can care for us during this transition. I knew it wouldn't be easy, and it's not... but it's right. It does feel right.  

My heart is still hesitant to fully let down and settle in. I feel in between an old life and a new life, and I am uncertain of where my loyalties lie. 

I bought a car on Wednesday. It was the strangest thing to hand the guy a personal check for my down payment, a piece of paper really, and drive off in this beautiful, foreign machine. It felt weird to be so trusted. I wanted to show them my passport and visa and birth certificate and notarized copies of my drivers license and my bank deposit receipt with a stamp, seal and signature. But, no. A personal check will do. 

I'm not in Mexico anymore.  

And I've already completely freaked out my mom and my sister with my driving. And I swear I'm trying really hard to be normal.  

This is home again.  

((Some pictures of the last couple weeks))

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Picking strawberries

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Hiking with aunt juli

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Taking clothes off (as usual) at the skate park

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Helping uncle john wash his bike 

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Our new car!!

 

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Slack line fun 

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World Cup sticker madness brought by daddy!

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Riding bikes for dayzzzz

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Views from my run

 

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Oregon.

in the past 10 days....

I drove back and forth Silverton <---> Hood River three times.

The third time I signed the dotted line... and bought a house!

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I've gone on 8 gorgeous runs.

I've given the boys their first bubble bath.

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I've eaten Thai food and cranberry orange scones and Cookie butter. 

I've organized piles of clothes and shoes and toys.

I've slept each night with two little people snuggled close, breathing down my neck.

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I've watched the World Cup and celebrated with Mexico.

I've accidentally said Gracias 3 times.

I bought an iPhone. 

I've missed my husband. 

I interviewed for a job... and forgot a word in Spanish.

I've been anxious; I've had peace.

One day at a time.

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thank you, México.

Dear México,

I know I get frustrated easily... annoyed... impatient.  But, I promise I'm working on it.  I know it's not all your fault when things go wrong; I know much of it is my spoiled northwestern attitude.  I want to say thank you, before I leave, like a polite houseguest should. I want to say, sheepishly, that I am going to miss you ... deeply. 

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Thank you for the big hearty breakfasts you've made me, the fresh steaming tortillas and enfrijoladas, which you knew are my favorite.  Thank you for the fresh squeezed orange juice, the floating seeds are the best part. Thank you for the sunrises as I drive Solo to school over the Circunvalación bridge. Thanks for thinking of me, then.

Thank you for the wind when I've been hot this month; for bringing me the rain early this year. That was sweet of you, and kind. Thank you for the birds that you've sent to wake me at dawn, I know I've been ungrateful.  Thank you for the girl at Starbucks the other day who called me amiga and linda. I was reminded of things about you that I love. And, thank you for Alberto, our waiter at the pool the other day. He was a cutie.

Maybe more than anything else, thank you for teaching me Español. I promise to never lose it. I promise to fight like a mama bear so that my cubs don't lose it either. Thank you for being my home these past eight years, and for being the first home they've ever known. I promise also to always remind them of that. 

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Thank you for your anthem, and for your flag that my boys can spot from miles away, way up high, noble and proud. Thank you for trying to be better... we don't always see it, but I know you are. 

Thank you for the warm laguna to swim in, for the gentle waves at the beach. Thank you for the palm tree across the street and the limón tree on the corner. Thank you for the ripe cantaloupes and mangoes, and the trail into the canyon. Thank you for the Bosque, and for the Rio Caliente. 

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Thank you for the friends you've given me. The first in my life to truly be like family. Thank you for the memories. . .

I'll be forever thankful.

 

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thoughts on leaving a life.

How many times in a lifetime do you leave a life behind?

It's bittersweet, this time. The sounds and smells and textures and colors. The things. The piles of things that somehow at some point we thought we needed.  The goodbyes that I know are coming. {Oh, my heart.}  All of this that surrounds leaving a life behind. 

When I'm running, I'm looking around instead of down at my feet. I'm noticing the noise pollution, the construction on Mar Egeo, the sun through the trees on Pablo Neruda, the dogs out for walks on Montevideo. I'm not as annoyed when people don't hear me coming, or when I have to stop at an intersection, or by the broken pieces of sidewalk I have to jump over. It's all part of this city, this life.

My pantry is dwindling to nothing, suitcases are piled in the entryway gradually filling up to fifty pounds, the paper chain countdown hanging from the ceiling is too high for us to reach, the chains are so few now. When I see my sister on Friday at the airport, it's all going to become real. The ending that's the prerequisite to our new beginning. 

Listening to Rainer with our nanny in the other room, singing songs in Spanish, counting to 10, naming all of the colors of Hot wheels cars ... these are some of the most beautiful sounds in the world. My ears will miss Spanish. I know we will find it, over there, but I also know deep down it's never the same. 

Here and there. Different kinds of beauty, different challenges, different ups and different downs. In hindsight it will still be beautiful, and it will still be broken.

But, mostly beautiful. 

I'm not sure what direction this blog will go. I hope to keep writing; to document our journey from one life to the next, and the changes and growth that my boys endure. If you are in Mexico, I hope you stay in touch. And if you happen to find yourself in Hood River, let's be friends! 

running the pablo neruda hill this morning.

running the pablo neruda hill this morning.

hoping

In this very moment my husband, my other half, is waiting in the office of his potential future place of employment for his day-long interview/presentation/panel/observations. He's wearing his light gray pinstripe Express suit, probably a darker blue shirt and silver-toned tie. Black shoes. Black belt. He's got his shiny new MacBook Pro and his notes folded neatly in his pocket. He's rehearsing his introduction in his head that he's faithfully practiced 37 times. The next few hours will define the course of our lives. 

We've been down this road. The anticipation, excitement, plans made, homes googled, kindergarten applied for. And, then, the letdown. The shock. Not understanding why. I know in retrospect we will understand more and more, little by little. The puzzle will fall into place, and we'll look back and think, "Ahhh, yes." It wasn't meant to be.  We'll see those little details that we were blind to before. I hope.

One thing we learned from last time is it ain't over til the fat lady sings.  Of course, you can't help but hope and wonder and get all giddy about the possibilities. But, the truth of the matter is, you never know what they're thinking, do you? You never can understand or anticipate all the different factors being weighed in this crazy process of acceptance or rejection.

I hope he's not nervous. I hope he feels confident and ready and strong and smart. Because he is.  And he deserves this more than anyone I have ever known. 

 

 

interview with Rainer Marco

I found this "interview" on my phone that I had done with Rainer to document his 2 1/2 year old Favorites. But, then of course I forgot to post it, so here it is a few weeks late:

Favorite color: Pink!

Favorite food:  Fanfich  (sandwich)

Favorite movie:  Robots

Favorite toy:  Salo's 

Favorite game:  Rawr game

Favorite treat:  Chocolate! (oco - lot - tay)

Favorite car:  Car bue!  (blue car)

Favorite train:  Tomás

Favorite book:  Mommys

Favorite animal:  Rirraf.  No! Bacallo!  (giraffe/caballo)

Love this little man.


for ryan

"Mommy, can I hold your hand?" he whispers, as I lay in the dark beside him, waiting for the familiar and comforting heavy breathing. 

"Yes, always and forever." I slip my hand in his, and a brief 30 seconds later I feel his body twitch ever so slightly, and I smile.  He's going to be six this summer, and I know by now he should be able to sleep by himself in his own room, in his own bed. This is silly, I often think.  But the days where he needs me are numbered. 

As I laid awhile and held his hand, my thoughts wandered to 3 year old Ryan Cruz Saldana. I had just stumbled on his story through a photo on Instagram. On Friday he was tragically hit by a car in front of his cousin's house while running to retrieve a frisbee.  The thought of how it could have been Rainer... It could be me grieving.... I shuddered.

Just last week I was at the park with my boys. We were ready to go home for dinner and my arms were full, carrying bikes and water bottles.  Rainer ran a few meters ahead of me toward where our car was parked, across the street.

"Wait for me! Stop at the curb!" I felt a little tug in my heart to watch him closely. When he arrived to the curb, all of the sudden his little body stanced as if to run directly into the street. I literally screamed as loud as I could. It was instinct. My shout startled him and he stopped suddenly, giving me just enough time to reach him and grab him. 

A car was coming at just the right time and would have hit him. His tiny body was between two other parked cars, and the way the sun was shining, there is no way the driver would have seen him. My life could have crumbled in a split second. My heart pounded for a good while after the incident. It could happen to anyone, any one of us.

Ryan was an only child. The emptiness that is enveloping his parents cannot even be fathomed. His mommy has to endure Mother's Day without him, and it's heart-breaking. 

Let's pray for the Saldana's, and if you want, you can release red balloons on Sunday to show your support for his momma. Tag your pictures and posts #redballoonsforryan. You can also follow @redballoonsforryan on Instagram, where an auction is being held tomorrow (5/10) to raise money for the family's expenses.

Happy Mother's day, lovely friends. Love well, love often. 

 

The last month.

As May creeps upon me, I feel the need to reflect. May will be my last month in Mexico. It feels so strange to write those words. There is something about dusting off the cobwebs off old photo albums and journals, and attempting to pack a life into rectangular suitcases that makes one nostalgic.  And for some reason it also makes me feel old and creaky. All the squatting and digging around for things, and then standing up quickly and getting light-headed and a little weirded out by the popping sound my knees make... Yeah. That. And the over 50 job applications Mr. P and I have done since February and the appointment with the bank house lender person who said we need to have a huge pile of money in our account if we want to buy a house in August. I'm too old for this. Or too young. One of those.

But, I guess I've come to accept that it's happening, whether I like it or not, whether I'll ever be ready or not (the answer is not.)

I found an old journal I was writing for Solomon, monthly letters to my baby boy. The last entry was March 2010. I hung my head in shame for a few moments, and then I grabbed a pen and started to scribble out my thoughts to my now almost six-year-old. I re-read some of my older entries and laughed to myself at how ridiculous I sounded, how young and stupid. And then it dawned on me that we are always young and stupid (to our future wiser selves). These words I am now writing will make me feel awkward, it's just a matter of time. But, I suppose it's better than silence. 

As I'm sorting through eight years of accumulation, I'm making three piles: attempt to pack and bring with us, attempt to sell, throw or give away.  Unfortunately, it's harder than it sounds. I mean, all of Solomon's macaroni/finger-painting/ceramic bowl crafts ain't gonna fit. And that just sucks. But, it's life. The parting with things that are just things and the trying not to think about the other things that are so much more than just things.

Yeah, that's a peek inside my head right now.

Last week we dealt with a huge blow. Mr. P flew to Oregon for a day-long interview as the finalist for his dream job. He was so close. That's what made it so hard when they chose the other candidate.  It still hurts, but what else can you do but keep on. I feel lucky that I have a guy who is as inspiring as he is. Someone is eventually going to realize it and give him a chance.

Can I get an amen?

It's that time again.

Remember this infamous post, the things I hate ?

That post generated a lot of hits and a lot of laughs. These are the things we'll look back on fondly of our wonderful and chaotic time in Mexico.  

It's that time of year again. Passport renewal time! My baby boy's US Passport expired last fall, and since we are apparently going stateside in about 6 weeks (what??!!) it's time for a new one. Five years came and went in a flash.  

Here was our first attempt at his passport photo in August, 2008. Obviously it didn't make the cut. 

And we can't forget this memorable day, when our little guy became an official Mexican citizen! 

Yep, that is him getting fingerprinted! 

Yep, that is him getting fingerprinted! 

Sigh. 

Lots of happy and not so happy memories. But the kind that will be hilarious and beautiful in hindsight... someday. 

Solomon Teo, age 5 1/2. Tomorrow we'll go get you a shiny new passport. Lots of adventures await you, brave one. 

Momma forgot to wash your face. Sorry about that, buddy.

Momma forgot to wash your face. Sorry about that, buddy.

time time time

The flying of time around here has become ridiculous. How it is mid-April,   I    do   not    know. My parents are here for a 10 day visit, and our time has been spent eating delicious Mexican food, going for bike rides, sorting through clothing and dishes and pantry items, packing and playing games. 

We took the boys to the water park about 45 minutes outside the city. I think they had a *little* bit of fun. 

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We also spent the day in Ajijic, a small village on Lake Chapala's shore. The sun has gotten fierce and persistent, and it's gonna stay that way until we board our plane for Oregon. 

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My dad and I braved the hike of La Barranca, which I did last year with Mr. P for Climb Out of the Darkness. It brought back sweet memories of that day, and also reminded me that this year's climb is once again RACING TOWARD US at a rapid pace. June 21st will be here before we know it!  Local Oregon readers, please join our climb!  Team members, you can check updates on the page link above "Climb Out"!  If you aren't able to climb with us, please consider donating to the cause; the link to do this is here. Even $5 is something. 

THANK YOU and Happy Easter!!! 

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Convos with Solo

S:  Mommy, some girls have swimsuits that are called Zucchinis. Did you know? It's the kind where their belly button can see. Like, you have a Zucchini, mommy.  On the bottom is undies and on the top... hm. I don't know.

Really? Who told you that?

S:  Pablo. And I tell you what? Pablo has a novia.  But they aren't married.  Even Matheus has a novia!  His novia is Sophie.  Sophie used to be the novia of Pablo.  

Wow. Okay. 

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Climb Out 2014

Remember when Mr. P & I climbed out of a canyon? Literally? It was such a cool experience of reflection and gratitude, just the two of us. And we were able to raise $470 for Postpartum Progress. Bonus! (thanks to many of you!)

This year I'm going to be in Oregon for the Climb Out of the Darkness event on June 21st, so of course I jumped on the chance to lead a Team climb with my Oregon homies. Any Oregonians out there lurking about? Come out and make yourself known! Share with your friends and family! Let's rock this Climb!

Here is where you can join Team Oregon - Portland. Registration is free, but you MUST register to participate. Fundraising is optional, but rad. And if you raise $100 you get a free t-shirt!  We are going to have so much fun, while remembering and supporting the moms around us who are suffering. 

Team Oregon, over & out.

xo 



Life lately.

Mr. P is gone all week. We're on day 3 and going strong. I remember when him leaving on a work trip would send me spiraling into anxiety and fear. Yesterday as I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner I could hear the boys giggling and playing happily in the living room. I thought to myself, we are all stronger than we think we are. In so many ways we sell ourselves short. Just imagine the potential bottled up underneath the layers of each of our fears.  

I just finished an 11 mile training run. As I was planning my route I thought, hmm, I'll try for 8:30s, that way I won't be disappointed. I know I can run faster than that, but I don't like the idea of letting myself down. Of course, I ended up with an 8:14 average, and I just smiled knowingly to myself. Next time I'll go for 8:10s, and it's ok if I fail. I will run my 6th half marathon next weekend, and it will probably be my last race in Mexico. Definitely bittersweet. Mexico has given me so much; I can't wait to stomp 13 more miles into it's pavement. 

While the boys and I were eating together the other day, I said "I miss daddy." Solomon said promptly, "yeah, me too, but you do even more because you're his novia."

(novia means girlfriend. There has been a lot of talk of novias lately, and I'm not entirely sure what triggered it, but it's adorable. For now.) 

In this season of unknowns, I'm so proud of Mr. P. He's been so diligent and wise in his pursuit of work opportunities. And he's received the multiple rejections honorably and gracefully. I know that eventually the right door will open at just the right time, and the internal applicants will suck, (I kid. Sorta.) and the people will realize what an absolute rock star he is and they will say YES. 

YES.  

We just need someone to give us a chance. To say: yes, you can prove yourself here. yes, we think you are probably awesome. Yes. 

Next month Rainer will be 2 1/2. That's how old Solomon was when I got pregnant. That blows my mind because I remember thinking Solomon was so big, such a kid. And I look at Rainer and all I can think is NOO. He's a baby. My baby. It's not that I want to be pregnant again, because no. I just don't want my kids to get any older. Please. Not now. Not yet. They are so damn perfect I almost can't stand it.  

Sigh.  

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we do a lot of eating when daddy's away. 

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daily bathtub Olympics. 

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sharing a bed with these two is my favorite. 

the evolution of 7th grade

When you get through the 7th grade, it's like you've climbed Mt. Everest, even though you don't really know what Mt. Everest is. You are sure you've done the most difficult thing, and the awkwardness and insecurity and trying to check yourself out in the window reflection, is done for good.  

But then you're twenty-six, and a new mom, and the neighbor lady scolds you for not putting socks on your baby's frozen feet and the teenager checking your groceries out at the supermarket gives you the side eye and mentions knowingly that "wearing your baby like that really hurts their hips," and you go home and you cry because it's been awhile, but you feel like that all over again. 

And then you are twenty-nine and you've lived in Mexico for 5 years now and all you want to do is transfer your phone contacts but the girl on the other end of the line doesn't understand you, despite your best pronunciation efforts and then she gives a patronizing chuckle, and right then and there you lose it because WHY can't you understand me?! And you feel like that all over again. Thirteen and all unibrow and baggy pants. 

Now you are thirty-two, and you've known for awhile this means you're an adult, but you still feel 19 inside, scared and unsure. All of the decisions you are expected to make, where to send your son to school, where to start your brand new life, what to leave behind and what to bring, how to pack up 8 years into tidy little piles tucked into suitcases, fastened snugly with the hope of something even better. You get the rejection emails and phone calls and you try not to take any of it personally; "there's something better for you," and "more opportunities will come along" sounds so nice, but you still feel that much smaller inside, and you try to distract yourself or the fear may become unbearable. 

You realize life is just the evolution of 7th grade; it cycles in and out, always in a timely manner, always smacking you against the darn tether ball pole the moment your life gets too comfy cozy. So, you pull up your neon tapered jeans, put on your game face, and keep on keeping on, one awkward day at a time. 

free write

It's been a long time since I've come to this place with no agenda, no plan, nothing to say, really. Sometimes that's all we really need to do; admit that there's nothing to say, and yet we are bursting at the seams in silence. 

Sometimes I look at my boys and I just can't believe they are mine, that I'm old enough to be their mommy, that I can be trusted with lives. Solomon is a daddy's boy, but he sure loves to get a rise out of Rainer. And, he's no dummy; he knows that the surest way to make Rainer mad is to give mommy hugs and kisses. I don't mind. Solomon loves seeing the reaction he knew was coming ... "No, my mommy! Marco, mommy's boy. Solo, daddy's boy!" Two years old and already very territorial. I reassure him that he is still my boy, but Solo is my boy, too. That does not suffice.

"NO! Marco, mommy's boy!! Solo, daddy's boy!! Go, Solo, go!" (pointing to Daddy)

Solo is loving this, as he further snuggles his face into my neck. Go on, fight over me, boys. I know these days will end.

As they fight to secure their spot squeezed next to me, I'm reminded of this basic, carnal human need to belong to somebody. Don't we all just want someone to say to us, "I'm yours."  Nothing else, no strings attached, no requirements or stipulations, just two words:

I'm yours.

Yesterday Solo hollered at me from the backyard: Come mommy, watch my trick!  I lazily walked out to the trampoline and watched as he did a flip. And then another flip. And another, even higher. I couldn't believe it. I can't even do a flip on a trampoline (not that I've tried.) Of course after lots of OOhing and AAAhing and Wow-ing, I asked how in the world he learned how to do that?! 

"I don't know mommy, I just watched Santi G and then I knew how."  Everyday there's less and less he needs me for, and meanwhile his friends keep getting cooler and cooler. It's all very frightening, really. Before long, I'm going to be wearing jeans hiked up past my belly button and polyester floral jumpers (oh wait, that IS in style) and he's going to hide from me in the school pick up line. I hope that somewhere along the line, I'm doing something "right" enough that he'll always know deep down that I love him more than his friends ever can or will, and one day many moons ago he fought with his little brother to sit on my lap and give me kisses. 

Those days, long, long ago, when I was his world. 

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